by: Amy MacNeill
“Alex”, I asked as while flipping through a gardening book one frigid February afternoon, “are you going to help me make a pretty garden again this year?” “Yes…at Mommy’s house!” he cheerfully answered. And so the idea was hatched – I’d already bought a bunch of seed packets for various fruits and vegetables and knew I didn’t have enough space to plant it all. We’d plant two gardens so we could both enjoy them every day while teaming up on the weekends to tackle the bigger jobs of weeding and harvesting! As we wait for our bounty, we’ll also learn about local produce by visiting a local farm to pick up our weekly C.S.A. share and enjoy a number of fun farmers markets on the weekends.
My three year old nephew, Alex, and I have been bumbling around the garden for together for the better part of his life. This isn’t to say that we’re very good at it but it’s something that we enjoy…as long as we keep it low key and take plenty of cookie or Popsicle breaks! Though we’ve had pretty good success growing flowers, aside from a single, potted tomato plant that produced 3 small, green tomatoes that my dog Ryley enjoyed straight off the vine, this is going to be the first veggie garden either one of us have ever tried to grow.
A bit of gardening resume’ for us…
The summer of “Me” (2011): I was a fairly new gardener and Alex was a relatively new human. After spending the typical 20 minutes it used to take me to get him buckled into his car seat, we made our way to Lowes (remember I was a relatively new gardener and didn’t really know where else to go) to select a few colorful pots to bring home. “Pretty”, I would say to Alex when I saw something that caught my eye. “Me?” he would say. “Don’t you think this will look nice in the garden?” I would counter. “Me?” he would answer. Relenting, I finished up our shopping trip by letting him lead the conversation…”Me” he would say. “You” I would answer.
The summer of bulbs (2012): Savvier, I had learned that it was both cheaper and more magical to plant bulbs and delight in how they grew into beautiful flowers. Alex, arriving without a garden hat, was slathered with sun block and handled a small shovel, a handful of bulbs and bucket of dirt! For the rest of the season, I got to enjoy bulbs growing all over the yard in some random places!
So what will the summer of 2013 bring? I’m hoping for tomatoes, broccoli, sugar snap peas, watermelon, strawberries and an assortment of other fresh produce. So far, we’ve gotten one raised garden bed built but after talking with more seasoned gardeners, we’ve not planted anything in it yet. Instead, we’ve got one tomato plant (I have smaller dogs that hopefully won’t be able to reach the fruit) and a strawberry plan growing in containers that I can shuttle in doors on cold nights. “Do you know what this is?” I asked Alex last weekend while pointing at the strawberry plant. “It’s a seed” he answered. Smart boy!
With the exception of a brief San Francisco stint, Amy MacNeill is a life-long South Shore resident living in Pembroke and a regular reader of edible South Shore. While she stumbled into flower gardening a few years ago, Amy has decided to make the leap to growing vegetables and fruits. Her 3 year old nephew Alex, who lives in Kingston, will be her partner in this adventure. Amy’s goal is to teach him about where food comes from and instill a love of veggies in him – he’s already a fruit fanatic!